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Have tips reached a tipping point? Survey finds more negative feelings about increase in tip requests

A neon sign that says "Tip Your Tattoo Artist"
Jay Shah
Ideastream Public Media
The sign inside India Ink Tattoo Co. is meant to be a suggestion, says owner and artist India Rush. She says she doesn't want anyone to feel compelled to give her a tip for her work, but it's always appreciated and helps supplement her income.

In the U.S., the standard is to tip around 20% when dining at a restaurant, but a growing number of services are also asking for tips — like picking up takeout, grabbing a coffee, or getting a tattoo.

That's thanks in part to more businesses using payment apps like Square and Toast at checkout, that make it simple for businesses that didn't ordinarily ask for tips to now do so.

Frosty the Snowman bead necklace
Rachel Stefano
Non-monetary gifts are also considered tips by some, like this "Frosty the Snowman" bead bracelet that Rachel - a bartender in Akron - received from a customer. She has also received wine, cookies and sometimes a full home-cooked meal.

Tipping has been one custom where there are no rules and regulation, just guidelines.

And it can be stressful for many including gig workers who have little control over the apps they use to provide services like rideshare, food delivery, pet-sitting or home improvement and maintenance.

"You are at the mercy of the app, you're at the mercy of technology, you're at the mercy of people who are kind of controlling these systems," says Shawan, a rideshare driver from Canton.

A new survey by the Pew Research Center found 72% of U.S. adults said they saw an increase in the number of places expecting tips compared to five years ago. But only about a third said its easy to know whether or how much to tip for different services.

In case you missed it: This past week on the "Sound of Ideas" we spent the show talking about tipping with reporters and an etiquette expert.

- Lisa Mirza Grotts, Certified Etiquette Expert
- Drew DeSilver, Senior Writer, Pew Research Center
- Ann Carrns, Contributing Writer, The New York Times

Watch the discussion the player below.

Jay Shah is an associate producer for the “Sound of Ideas.”